Confessions of a Program Director

This post continues our series on “A Day In The Life Of” at LSS. Today, Michelle Madsen, Mentoring Services Program Director gives a small snapshot of what goes on in her world.

Facebook can be amazingly smart. It knows that 1) I have kids; 2) I like to shop for said kids; and 3) My job title is Program Director. As I was cruising through my Facebook news feed one night (when said kids were sleeping), I glanced at a sponsored post. It was for this t-shirt:

thisrtMy first reaction was, I am going to be a program director…SAID NO KID EVER! My second reaction was you can get anything printed on a t-shirt and for $12.99 plus shipping, it can be yours. The t-shirt, while it will never be on one of my kids, served as inspiration for this post. Instead of trying to give a play-by-play of what goes on any given day, I am just going to go confessional on the blog and share it all! Here we go!

1. The realization that you will never be the brightest star at Career Day. It is not a glamorous job. But at the end of the day, I know that I truly helped people better their lives. Connecting mentors to students is amazing. The best parts of my work are the opportunities to see matches interact. Seeing two strangers come together and form an incredible bond is something special. And to have played a very small role in that process is gratifying.

2. You are in the middle. With being a Program Director, you are almost guaranteed to have staff to supervise and, on the other side, report to a supervisor. Lucky for me, I have the best staff and supervisor to work with! They are all very hard working and deserve all the credit for making LSS Mentoring what it is today – over 1,100 volunteer mentors in 60+ schools. A huge added bonus is that working with good people makes coming to work that much more enjoyable.

3. You sometimes feel like an operator. By this, I mean the old-fashioned phone operator that physically connected one line to another. Sometimes it may be an easy, straight connection, and other times, there may be a few loops in the line. In other words, you do a lot of connecting people and resources to help make things happen!

4. Other duties as assigned is more than a line in your job description. For me, this can mean everything from setting up a conference room to presenting to a group of high school students to making sure blog posts are scheduled. Variety is definitely part of the day of a program director.

5. Even though you would never buy a t-shirt saying you are a program director or as an 18 year-old college freshman, tell your parents or professor you want to be a program director, it is a rewarding experience. And, it is where a lot of people end up – either as the capstone of their career or somewhere along their ladder of success, nearly every professional has served in some type of middle management position. You can learn a lot about teamwork, communication and develop great professional skills. Not a bad gig at all.

In all seriousness, LSS is a great place to work with a lot of amazing people making lives better across South Dakota. From the infant room teacher witnessing first steps, to a residential worker letting a teen express their feelings, to a counselor working with a client on stress management, to a case manager welcoming someone to our community for the first time, there is so much good that happens at LSS – day in and day out. I hope you enjoy our posts this week and chance to peek a little closer inside our work and the great people behind it.

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